Dhia Jaffar Al Mousawi and Oday Al Quraishi were two other Iraqi officials implicated, having allegedly received bribes in return for supporting Leighton Offshore’s bids. In 2016, a leak of confidential documents exposed massive corruption within the oil industry, implicating dozens of leading companies, bureaucrats and politicians in an international web of bribery.
In February 2019, David Lufkin, who served as head of global sales at British oil services corporation Petrofac, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery in a London court, after being investigated by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office. Like Mr Waugh, Mr Lufkin was also accused of trying to secure hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts by offering bribes.
At the centre of the scandal was Unaoil, a family business from Monaco, which despite having a low public profile, distributed vast sums of money as bribes on behalf of corporate giants including Samsung, Hyundai, Rolls-Royce, Halliburton and Leighton Holdings. Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post collaborated on a six-month inquiry and obtained a trove of documents revealing the extent of the scheme.
In October this year, Iraqi-born British national and former Unaoil executive Basil Al Jarah was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for bribing Iraqi officials to clinch US$1.7bn worth of oil projects in Iraq. Mr Al Jarah, Unaoil’s former Iraq country manager, admitted to paying US$17m in bribes to secure contracts to construct oil pipelines, an oil platform and offshore mooring buoys in the Gulf.
Muted Iraqi responseIn 2016, Iraqi authorities ordered an investigation into the allegations, but since then Mr Al Shahristani and Mr Al Mousawi have not been convicted of any wrongdoing, an Oil Ministry official told The National.
For Iraqis, the investigation is still underway in cooperation with the Australian and American authorities, another official at the Iraqi Integrity Commission said.
Judicial authorities have issued three arrest warrants against Mr Al Quraishi, who was in charge of the project in question, Mr Al Mousawi, the General Director of the Engineering Department at South Oil Company and Mr Al Jarah.
While Mr Al Jarah has been brought to justice in the UK, Mr Quraishi and Mr Al Mousawi are still at large. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Unaoil middleman, Ahmed Al Jibouri, was also a central figure in the corruption scandal involving Leighton Offshore’s large contracts in 2010 and 2011. It is unclear whether Mr Al Jibouri is still working in Iraq, through the website for his oil services company Armada Group lists a large number of Iraqi state-owned oil companies as clients.
The Australian Federal Police stated in documents submitted to the court that Leighton Offshore tendered for contracts for the installation of onshore and offshore oil pipelines and a mooring system in Basra, Iraq between 2009 and 2011. During Australian Senate estimates hearings in November 2013, officials responding to inquiries said that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission had first became aware that Leighton Holdings had referred concerns about possible foreign bribery to the Federal Police on 13 February, 2012, shortly before Leighton Holdings made an announcement to the market that it was cooperating fully with the Federal Police on possible breaches of the Code of Ethics.
The arrest of Mr Waugh could mark the end of a complex international effort to find justice for a country which, in the words of prosecutors, was a vulnerable post-conflict environment struggling to rebuild. The UK Serious Fraud Office highlighted how the case did not simply impact the fortunes of oil companies but impacted the lives of millions of Iraqis since Unaoil’s actions “drove up the price a war-torn country had to pay for essential infrastructural upgrades.
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